Let's face it: Swiping right just isn't the same as the good old-fashioned touch you get from another human being. Since our online dating ADD makes actually going on a couple of dates a long and arduous process, have we grown accustomed to trading in romantic snuggle partners for just a plain, warm body?
It's no surprise that everyone likes to be touched. It's a part of human nature to feel comforted by the warm body of another, a phenomenon that begins right when we emerge all gooey from the womb. This intense sensation is the same reason why the rush of someone's hand cradling the small of your back makes you feel extra good -- it's all because of the hormone oxytocin. When this feel-good hormone is released, it can reduce stress, boost the immune system, relieve pain and even prevent heart disease. But perhaps most of all, it makes you feel connected to the other person.
Yet, there seems to be a fine line between platonic cuddling and romantic cuddling; boundaries are blurred, barriers are crossed and confusion seems to fill the air.
The service thesnugglebuddies.com believes that platonic cuddling is a totally healthy way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and help with depression by enjoying the comfort of another's embrace. For one dollar a minute, you can rent a snuggle buddy (man or woman) to accompany you to a movie, dinner or just to cuddle. No sexual activities are allowed and you have to sign a waiver of agreement, but hugging, spooning and massaging are all on the menu.
It's no question that the snuggle buddies service seems absurd. The commodification of an act that typically occurs as a reflection of love and affection feels manufactured. Performing this intimacy with a complete stranger, dare I say, seems a bit like legal prostitution.
While we can all agree that everyone wants to be touched, that cuddling has proven scientific benefits for our health and well-being, should it be reserved for someone you actually care about? Where do we draw the line between an act that makes us feel good and an act that makes us feel good because of who we're doing it with?
For those of us that don't pay to cuddle, there's still a market, so to speak, for getting your cuddle fix. Some people seem to be natural platonic cuddlers in their touchy-feely personality, but others can adopt that role when the cuddlers seem to fit together just right. Is platonic cuddling a thing? Definitely. But when everyone is not metaphorically sitting on the same side of the couch, there will inevitably be confusion, awkwardness, and the potential loss of a friendship. When everyone is lined up, however, a cuddle can be the start to something magical.
As humans, not only do we thrive on human interaction, we depend on it. It is enmeshed in the very nature of our being. It's what makes that feel-good sensation inside go "ah." And it's what makes us keep swiping, no matter how many unmatchables pop up on our screen. Yes, at the end of the day we all "need" our cuddles, but perhaps we should ask ourselves: what is a cuddle really worth? Maybe, just maybe, it's more than a dollar a minute.